Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
Last night I flew back to San Francisco after several days in Orange, New Jersey. Along with Fr. John Itzaina, our formation delegate for the province, Fr. Tim Ploch, our regional, Fr. Tim Zak, Provincial from the Eastern Province, Fr. Steve Ryan, formation delegate for the New Rochelle Province and the formation team in Orange, we met all day on Monday for our annual Curatorium . Curatorium is the gathering of those responsible for formation, especially, the provincials of the provinces being represented, and evaluate the program and plan for the future. I wish to thank the formation team of the post-novitiate program for their dedication and commitment. The young brothers are happy and grateful for how Fr. John Nazzaro, the Director of the community, has created a healthy and happy community. While in Orange, Fr. John Itzaina and I also had the opportunity to treat Brs. Leo Imbert and Kris Tran to a Cuban meal in downtown Montclair.
Fr. Tim Ploch, our regional, also flew out yesterday to San Francisco. Fr. Tim is conducting our consultation process for the discernment of a new provincial. My term as provincial ends this July, after six years in this office. Our Constitutions limit the term to normally six years. Fr. Tim Ploch will conduct one of the two consultations tonight in Richmond and the second consultation process on Friday, February 7th, in Bellflower. Please keep us in prayer as we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in this very important discernment. There are many good things happening in our province but also some major challenges. As we look into the future, we ask that we may be guided to see clearly the challenges, the needs and the way forward. This fits very well with the theme of our General Chapter which begins on February 16th: “What Kind of Salesian for the young today?”
Tomorrow, I will attend our quarterly Finance Advisory Board meeting and attend our Trusts Board of Advisors meeting on Friday. We have two Trusts which help support our elderly Salesians and our young men in formation. These two Trusts were started many years ago, and we are grateful to the Salesians of that time who had the foresight to create a Trust, which can only be administered by a Board and for the purpose stated, in order to help the elderly, sick and and those in formation.
On Friday, after the Trusts meetings at the Provincial House, I will drive down to Bellflower. The Provincial Council begins its February meetings on Saturday, at 1pm. Our Provincial Council meetings will take place at Soto Street. The Provincial Council will meet from 1pm on Saturday to dinner time. And, again all day Sunday. On Monday, the Provincial Council will meet with the delegates of our province. We started this process after our June Provincial Chapter. It has been good to meet with the delegates and coordinators. It is a way to keep us all on the same page and keep us accountable to our mission as a province.
On February 13th, I will fly to Turin. I will go by way of Munich to Turin, arriving at 12:35 PM in Turin on Friday. Br. Al Vu (taking a different airline and route) and I will be attending our General Chapter. General Chapters are held every six years and all provincials and their delegates (chosen by the Provincial Chapters) take part in this special gathering. A Theme is chosen by the Rector Major and his Council several years before and the the Congregation studies the themes with the provincial communities in preparation for these two months. I will return to San Francisco on April 13, a week after Easter. While I am not looking forward to two months of sitting at meetings (Saturday afternoons until Sunday nights are free), I am looking forward to connecting with many of my Salesian brothers from around the world, many of whom I have met during my time as Provincial, either here in the province or while traveling. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have met some wonderful Salesians. Many of us have stayed connected as friends. When we do connect, either in person or through the internet, it feels like we were never separated by distance. I thank God for this blessing! We as Salesians we should never lose sight of the ability of making good friends. I am very grateful to God for this gift of friendship and brotherhood. I have felt a closeness with many of my Salesian brothers from different parts of the world. I encourage us all to develop close friendships with our own brothers in our province and with Salesians from around the world. Developing close friendships was very much part of Don Bosco’s style and part of the Salesian Spirit.
As I prepare to leave the province for two months, I feel assured of the leadership of our Vice-Provincial, Fr. John Itzaina. I also ask for your prayers for Br. Al Vu and myself. May this time in Turin strengthen our own vocation to serve the young and our fraternal union with each one of you. As Pope John Paul II wrote in “Vita Consacrata,” “You have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but also a great history still to be accomplished. Look to the future, where the Spirit is sending you in order to do even greater things.” May this Chapter 28 help us meet the demands of the future and continue to inspire us to attract others to join our communities to remember our great history and forge an even greater future of the Church, where the love and mercy of Jesus is not only taught and preached, but experienced and known.
With warm regards and gratitude,